NEW YORK, N.Y. – Florida State freshman Trey Cunningham didn’t get the start he hoped for Saturday night at The Armory, and in a 60-meter race with five flights of 42-inch hurdles between him and the finish line, there simply wasn’t enough time to make up ground.
Cunningham placed sixth in the eight-man field of the Fred Schmertz 60-meter hurdles in the 111th running of the Millrose Games. The Winfield, Ala. native finished in 7.77 seconds against a field of six professionals and one other collegiate athlete.
“I didn’t get a good start so I was trying to get back in the race from the gun,” said Cunningham, came off the starting line in lane 3, adjacent to eventual champion Devon Allen (7.50). “Every time I tried to make a move, they made a move and they just kept going faster.”
It wasn’t the outcome Cunningham hoped for in his return to the track where he set the World U20 record a year ago over 39-inch hurdles (7.40), but it didn’t prevent him from soaking up the experience.
“Just a little a bit [different],” Cunningham said, when asked about the difference between last March’s record-setting race to the record at the New Balance Indoor Nationals. “[The other hurdlers] were all treating me like I’ve been on the circuit for a few years now. I don’t know why. It was cool.
“I just treated it like another race, expect everybody is fast. I’m going to have to go fast or I’m not going to even be in the picture to win.”
Florida State director of sprints, hurdles and relays, Brandon Hon, who accompanied Cunningham to the meet, was nonetheless impressed by his young protégé.
“He had great composure on a big stage,” Hon said. “I loved his sprint work between [the hurdles] but a rare bad start cost him. When we put this finish with the Iowa start, we will be in a very special place.”
Cunningham ran 7.74 in his winning Florida State debut at Iowa’s Larry Wieczorek Invitaitonal back on Jan. 20; a time which ranks fourth in Seminole history and sixth in NCAA Division I this season.
And he won’t have to wait long to put this race behind him. He will join his Seminole teammates next weekend in Fayetteville, Ark. for the Tyson Invitational, after a few days of sharpening.
“There’s nothing major; just the small stuff,” Cunningham said, when asked adjustments he’ll make before his next outing. “I’m going to have to get a good start and my technique is going to have to be impeccable to get back down to a 7.4 or faster.
“This is my second race over 42-inch hurdles, so that might have something to do with it.”
Cunningham wasn’t the only athlete with Florida State connections racing Saturday at the Millrose Games. Colleen Quigley’s Wanamaker Mile debut was especially impressive as the Seminoles’ nine-time All-American and 2016 Olympian won in 4:30.05, edging Bowerman Track Club teammate Kate Grace (4:03.08).
Michael Cherry won his Millrose debut in the NYAC Men’s 400, grabbing the lead on his second time around the 200-meter track to finish in 46.46. Sage Watson broke the Canadian 300-meter record in a runner-up finish (37.08) to Shaunae Miller-Uibo, who matched the world record.